Fandoms are the driving force of the music industry. They have so much impact and prove time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Over the years we have seen the growth of popularity in fan projects, from what started with things as simple as mass-printed paper signs showcasing the same message that fans wanted to send to their admired artists, and over time became more complex and intricate.
With the advance of technology and the accessibility to create things such as websites, apps, and more, fan projects now more than ever are reaching new heights that are proving to be on par with the production of concerts themselves. Lightcert is a fan-developed app to create an immersive fan experience at concerts, with Harry Styles Love on Tour concerts being the pilot for the project. A project born out of lockdown created by three passionate fans, Lightcert combines the innovative ideas of fans with the convenience of smartphone apps which elevates the experience of concert projects to a new level. As the tour continues to make its way through the United States, we spoke to the creators of Lighcert to learn more.
Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Bailey: Hello! My name is Bailey Hirota, and I am a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College studying computer science and Japanese. At Lightcert, I’m the tech end, meaning I handle the iOS development and website updates. Because Harry Styles’s music was a motivating factor in learning mobile development, I’m excited to help light up Love on Tour and connect fans to the live music that we now appreciate so much more.
Sarah: Hey! My name is Sarah Najib, and I’m a Sophomore at CSULB, majoring in Psychology! I run the TikTok and helped create the app with Bailey at the beginning of the app’s development. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing App because it allows us to give back to Harry since he has helped me get through so much with his music. I really hope we can make the concerts more memorable and special for Harry and all of the fans!! I am so glad to be a part of the amazing fandom that surrounds Harry and can’t wait to make more connections with fans everywhere!
Emma: Hi! My name is Emma Currie, and I’m a Sophomore at Bryn Mawr College as well. I’m planning on majoring in Psych and minoring in health studies and German! At Lightcert, I handle the Instagram as well as the graphic designs for the app and its social media. I joined the project midway through last year, invited by my close friend Bailey. Joining as an outsider, I’ve become a die-hard Harry fan, and I want to give back to the community that was just so welcoming and accepting!
You’ve created an amazing app called Lightcert which is a great new way to enhance concert experiences. Can you tell us about what inspired you to create the project?
The original idea was created by Bailey and Sarah during the first part of lockdown in 2020. In the beginning, it was just one of those ‘Covid baby’ ideas. However it’s become much more than that, and we’ve been working on it together for about a year and a half now!
As fans of Harry Styles and other artists, we know all about the types of fan projects that have been done in the past. When the original Love on Tour was postponed, Bailey and Sarah took that as their sign to start building the project. They used the next few months of lockdown to create both the app and the social media presence – with Emma joining the team later on. Sarah and Bailey used to brainstorm ideas for the project on walks and drives through their neighborhood in LA, and then Bailey and Emma did the same during academic terms at Bryn Mawr. When Love on Tour 2021 was announced, we amped up everything, adding 27 more stadiums to the app, increasing our social media presence, and getting in touch with more Harries!
Walk us through the process. How did you create the app and project?
The app was created by Bailey and Sarah during the first lockdown period, with the coding done by Bailey and the social media done by Sarah. We started out small, only planning to do shows in LA and NYC. The project has grown much larger since then!
It took a bit of trial and error to get where we are now, especially in the graphic design/social media department. It took a lot of collaboration and back and forth between us to get our “look” down, but we’re proud of where we are now!
How did you come up with the specific light themes for each song and decide which to use?
Well, in the beginning, we chose the colors based on the way the songs made us feel. When we were planning the colors, we also visualized what each song would look like for a fan in the stadium and chose colors that would complement each other.
We went through development changes based on how the app’s colors would work with the tour production’s lighting patterns. For example, we changed ‘Treat People With Kindness‘ to ‘Sign of the Times’ due to lighting conflicts, as well as the fact that we thought the color scheme would be more unifying for that song.
It was difficult because we didn’t know what the setlist was during development. It was kind of scary actually, doing all of this work for specific songs that may or may not have ended up being performed… Thankfully, all of the songs that we developed ended up being on the setlist!
We’re a few shows into the tour now and we’ve seen some awesome videos of the project! How are you finding the experience? Have you encountered any real-time situations and how have you handled them?
Oh boy! That’s a very loaded question. We just made a post about this, actually. We can’t be everywhere at once, and since we created plans for so many different shows, we’ve found it difficult to control what happens. We’re running this with a very, very limited budget so all the planning has to be done remotely, often from other sides of the country.
All that being said, we’ve seen the project work! Unfortunately, for the reasons we spoke about above, it’s hard to get footage of it working/to see it work in general. During his shows, we sit in our dorm rooms with our computers out, bouncing around from choppy live stream to choppy live stream.
When we do see it work, though, it’s amazing. Emma specifically remembers a time when, during the Denver show, the camera panned to a whole section of the stadium using the app and she screamed. Mind you, this was at 1 AM, in a tiny dorm room! We’re hoping to go to some shows in person later on this year, and we’ll be taking pictures of everything.
However, at the end of the day, all that matters is giving back. The app is made for and by fans, so the most important thing is that people can feel a sense of togetherness and unity by lighting up the stadium. Even if it’s only in one section, that’s enough. Hearing people talking about using it with their small group of friends is wonderful, and we can’t wait to do it ourselves!
At the moment the app is exclusive to iPhone. How can those with an android still get involved?
We found another app that’s Android compatible called ‘Color Flashlight’. Android phones have the hardware capability for a color-changing flash, so those with Android phones can use this app with their section’s colors to participate in the project.
We know fan projects are quite a big part of fandom culture. What do you think are the benefits of these kinds of fan affairs?
From a fan perspective, we can definitely say that projects like these are amazing because of the way they make you feel connected to the show, the other fans, and the artist. It’s such a lovely experience when everyone works together to make a one-night special. People are brought together when they otherwise wouldn’t be.
Through the Lightcert project, we’ve seen this happen on a large scale, as well as on a personal level. During the Philly show, Bailey and Emma met with some fans in line, and soon enough, they began talking like they’d been friends for years.
Fandom is truly incredible and totally undermined by society. Being fan-made here at The Honey POP, we know how powerful it can truly be. How would you say that fandom and the community have impacted each of you as individuals?
Bailey: I started getting into Harry because of Sarah. His music was my motivation to learn iOS development for the project, which eventually led me to declare a computer science major and pursue software. Without him, this project, and the fan community, I’m not sure if I would be where I am now. I’m really excited about this project because I want to give back to Harry since he helped me figure out what I’m passionate about.
Sarah: I’ve been a fan of Harry and 1D since forever. I want to show appreciation to someone that has given me so much inspiration for so many years. My experience during the pandemic was extremely difficult, and his music gave me hope and helped me get through it. The fact that we’re even at a point where we can be together and see him in person is so amazing, and I want to make this tour special for him!!
Emma: When I was younger, I used to be part of a lot of different fandoms. As I’ve gotten older, and busier, I fell out of them. Becoming part of the Harry fandom has reminded me just how much I missed being in one! Understanding all the jokes, being able to strike up a conversation with anyone that’s also part of the fandom – it’s something that I missed. When I first started working on this project, I actually didn’t call myself a Harry fan. It’s only after working on the project and spending time with other Harries that I realized what a special group of people this community is.
What’s next for the Lightcert app? Are you planning to launch this for other artists’ tours?
We’re currently exploring future options, but we’ve had such a great time working on the project and would love to continue working on it after this! As for now though, we’re primarily focused on the tour and making sure that everything runs smoothly.
If you could give any advice to fans who also have big ideas or are inspired to do something empowered by fandom, what would you say?
We would say go for it! Seriously. There are misconceptions about fandoms and fans, but the things that can be accomplished by a few passionate people working together is unbelievable. It can be scary to jump into a new project, but most of the skills and tools you need can be developed through online resources or with help from others. You’d be very surprised with the hidden talents of people you interact with every day!
Something that we often remind ourselves is that no one started from the top. Struggling and having feelings of uncertainty is very natural, but it’s all about trial, error, and learning! We know how creative fans can be, so take the leap!
Thanks, guys! We think this is amazing and we’re sure Harry loves it, too!
Are you attending Love On Tour? Will you be participating in the Lightcert project? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Featured Image Source: Anthony Pham
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.